As we explored in Part 1 of 3 of this truck accident series, truckers with medically disqualifying conditions often misrepresent their medical condition to medical examiners.
No mandate to get medical records of truckers
Under Federal Law, the federal regulations do not mandate that medical examiners obtain the actual medical records to determine whether or not a trucker is accurately portraying his or her medical history. We all know that when a truck accident occurs then everyone will be pointing the blame at someone else
Trucker’s medical history
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that truckers have a Medical Examiners’ certificate in order to operate a big rig or tractor trailer. The loophole in the regulations is that medical examiners may rely on the trucker’s medical history questionnaire that the trucker is required to fill out. The examiners are not required to look at actual medical records. This loophole is known to cause truck accidents by medically unfit or unsafe truckers leading to serious injury or even fatalities.
Federal Truck rules
The Federal Trucking Rules state: “The medical examiner must be aware of the rigorous physical, mental, and emotional demands placed on the driver of a commercial motor vehicle. In the interest of public safety, the medical examiner is required to certify that the driver does not have any physical, mental, or organic condition that might affect the driver’s ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely.” fmcsa
Truckers often lie, misrepresent or omit important information on the questionnaire relied on by the medical examiner. It is an all too common story. The medical examiner is not provided with the correct information to make a determination as to the trucker’s fitness to operate an 18 wheeler on a highway, throughway, road or street across the United States. The trucking company feels they have met their duty to the public when the trucker has provided a valid, on its face, medical card.
After a truck collision in which a medical condition caused a truck crash, the trucking company and their high powered insurance company’s insurance trucking crash defense attorneys will be figuratively yelling and screaming from the rooftop : “The trucking company acted reasonably because he had a medical card”. The insurance adjusters for the truck company for their part will deny negligence and deny liability and fault for the deadly or catastrophic motor vehicle wreck.
Best trucking accident lawyers in Rhode Island
The best trucking accident lawyers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts (Mass.) will be high powered personal injury lawyers or Wrongful death attorneys who know better than taking the insurance company at face value!! The insurance company’s argument is often based on a false premise that the trucking certificate of fitness was valid in the first place. The best Rhode Island truck accident lawyers will prove that the trucking company knew or should have known that the driver had a medically disqualifying condition or knew or should have known that the driver mislead the medical examiner or omitted crucial information. Local RI inexperienced rear end car accident lawyers or Massachusetts motorcycle crash attorneys will be unqualified and underfunded to take on big insurance and their divisive, heavy-handed and underhanded tactics.
Top truck accident lawyer in RI
A top RI or MA truck accident or Providence / Boston wrongful death attorney will argue that the trucking company had a duty to obtain the records from the medical examiners. This is an even stronger argument if the trucking company had reason to believe that the trucker had a serious medical condition which could put pedestrians, motorcyclists, motorists, bus passengers, bicyclists and other at risk of injury or death.
Trucking companies often possess information concerning unfitness of their drivers such as obvious physical conditions or symptoms that are patently obvious, prior medical emergencies they are aware of or information that is disclosed to them in one form or another. Trucking companies will often ignore this information which tends to discredit the medical certificate of fitness of the trucker. The profit driven company will rationalize that it is not their responsibility to protect the public, but it is only their duty to make sure that they do the minimum to insure that all their truckers have satisfactorily passed the medical examination as required by federal law. Therefore, the fact that the trucker lied to the medical examiner will never see the light of day unless there is a serious crash and litigation and extensive discovery is commenced.
The Insurance defense Semi truck accident defense lawyers will assert that there is nothing in the federal rules that require trucking companies to request such records and there is no requirement that medical examiners furnish such report. Nonetheless, nothing in the federal rules PROHIBIT such records be sent to an employer.
Insurance defense motor vehicle accident lawyers are well known for fighting in court, vehemently, attempting to keep the injured victim’s car accident attorneys and big rig collision lawyers from obtaining pertinent records such as applicable medical records. The trucking wreck litigation or fatal tractor trailer crash cause of action usually comes in the form of a negligent entrustment of the big rig or a negligent hiring negligence cause of action.
A physical examination must be performed by a licensed medical examiner that took applicable classes and passed an exam for certification. To be a licensed medical examiner you must be an Medical doctor, a DO, Physician Assistant, APN or DC.
“(a) Except as provided by paragraph (b) of this section and as provided by § 391.42, the medical examination must be performed by a medical examiner listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners under subpart D of part 390 of this chapter.” fmcsa
Medical history form
In addition to the physical examination, a trucker must complete a medical history form. This form mandates that a truck driver answer a series of pointed medical history questions either “yes” or “no”. If a trucker answers any question in the affirmative then the driver must answer further questions concerning the potentially disqualifying medical condition. Once the trucker discloses a medical condition then the trucker must disclose further information regarding the medical condition
Dangerous truckers on the road
If the medical examiner is not clued in concerning a pertinent and relevant medical condition he may do a perfunctory physical examination or not look into that issue at all. If the medical examiner relies on a trucker’s false, misleading or incomplete answers they may not request further medical records. This loophole often puts dangerous truckers on the road often leading to truck collisions causing serious injury or even deaths / fatalities.
18 wheeler crash
49 CFR 391.41 sets forth certain medical conditions which disqualify a tractor trailer trucker from operating an 18 wheeler in any State including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations as well as Boston Mass.
“(3) A person is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if..”(3) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes mellitus currently requiring insulin for control… The federal rules also list numerous medical conditions which would disqualify a semi operator from operating a semi truck (tractor trailer) in The United States. These rules state that these below conditions must “interfere with his/her ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely” 49 CFR 391.41
See also 527 U.S. 516 (1999 )MURPHY v. UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC.No. 97-1992. United States Supreme Court.(American with Disabilities Act acause of action) Scholar
The types of conditions that will cause medical disqualification include serious cases of cardiovascular disease “known to be accompanied by syncope, dyspnea, collapse”, hearing issues, epilepsy, vision problems, insulin use, or congestive cardiac failure, alcohol and drug problems, arthritis, psychiatric disorders, “clinical diagnosis of high blood pressure”, “current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism” etc.
Medically unfit driver’s “doctor shopping”
Another serious issue is medically unfit driver’s “doctor shopping” to obtain a certificate from a compliant yet unethical medical examiner. This will be addressed in part 2 of 3 of this RI truck accident / truck crash series. If involved in a truck accident in RI or MA, please contact a Rhode Island truck accident attorney. The NTSB stated ““In the absence of a mechanism to track all medical certification examinations, a commercial driver with a serious medical condition who is denied a medical certificate by one examiner may be able to obtain a medical certificate from another examiner, thus subverting the purpose of the medical certification process,” the NTSB report noted. “The failure of the medical certification process to remove unfit drivers is a systemic, not an isolated, problem.” Fleetowner
Source “Never Should Have Been on The Road in the First place”, Attorney R James Amaro The Lawyer’s Log Book.